Organic Vegetable Gardening

Organic Vegetable Gardening

Part of Ep. 802 Organic Gardening

Join Steve Pincus of Tipi Produce in Fitchburg to learn about the benefits of organic gardening.

Premiere date: Jun 24, 2000

TRANSCRIPT+
Wisc Gardener Transcript: 

Shelley:
This is Tipi Produce. This is an organic vegetable farm, about 25 acres, in Fitchburg in southern Wisconsin. I'm with the owner, Steve Pincus. Steve, my first question has to be, "Why organic?"

Steve:
Shelley, organic gardening and farming produces the very best quality fruits and vegetables. It's the way to go for a small diversified farm or a backyard gardener.

Shelley:
And who do you sell your produce to?

Steve:
We sell at the Dane County Farmers' Market on Saturday morning. But most of our produce is sold to restaurants and stores in Madison, Milwaukee and also Chicago.

Shelley:
I don't think of restaurants as being a big buyer of organic produce.

Steve:
Well, high-end restaurants really want to put out the best product they can. They want to give their customers the best food available. So, they're looking for the best ingredients. They turn to organic farmers.

Shelley:
If you were going to give some advice to a home gardener, on a much smaller scale than what you've got here, what would you suggest?

Steve:
I think a number one tip is feed your soil. As organic farmers, what we're really doing is farming our soil. We're really taking care of the biological life that's in our soil: bacteria, fungi, actinomycetes; invertebrates, like springtails, that help-- that break down organic material, recycle it and provide nutrients for healthy plants. We can use any sort of organic materials, things like old hay or straw in a backyard garden, weeds...

Shelley:
Grass clippings.

Steve:
Grass clippings are very available and work extremely well. When we can get it, we like to use compost, materials that have been composted. We have two types here. Both of these composts are about a year old. This is a more fibrous, less nitrogenous compost material that needs some more seasoning. Or, we could use it this way as a mulch, right on top of the ground. But what we really like to use as fertilizer to work into the soil is well finished, dark, crumbly material, like this.

Shelley:
So this is the finished product.

Steve:
This is it.

Shelley:
Perfect.

Steve:
This is the real stuff.

Shelley:
What other tips, then? We feed the soil. That's a good one. And I think we all tend to forget it. What else would you suggest for the organic home gardener?

Steve:
Well, I think plant diversity. It's really important to have a variety of plants in your garden. It helps balance out the weather ups and downs. Something's always going to be working well and providing good food for you. And it allows us to rotate crops throughout the fields, or around the garden.

Shelley:
And that's important for disease control, isn't it?

Steve:
It really is. Different families of crops are susceptible to different diseases, many of these are soil-born. And also, nutritional needs of different families are different. So, by rotating around, you help balance out the nutritional draws from the soil.

Shelley:
I tend to find that in planning my garden and in rotating, I tend to over react at every little problem that comes up in my garden. Am I doing the right thing as an organic gardener?

Steve:
Well, organic gardening is like a conversation with nature. It's not really a monologue. The gardener really has to listen and see what's going on in the garden, as much as talk to and take care of the garden. So, some problems just go away on their own. Most of them never develop to be serious. If you've taken care of your soil, on a small scale-- a small, diverse garden-- you're not likely to have major problems.

Shelley:
So, don't hover and over react every time something looks a little abnormal.

Steve:
No, it's fun to go out and play in the garden. Don't worry about it.

Shelley:
Okay.

Steve:
Have fun.

Shelley:
Do flowers have a role in an organic garden?

Steve:
Sure, they do. They add diversity and they bring in nectar and pollen and a habitat for beneficial insects that can really help provide some control of pest insects.

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